Holiday menu planned? Check.
Christmas tree decorated? Check.
Cards mailed? Check.
Gifts wrapped? Check.
We painstakingly coordinate our holiday, fretting down to the last perfectly placed candy cane as we eagerly await the deluge of family and friends that rotate in and out of our home from mid November through the New Year. What we don't always plan for is the unwelcome guest — the Thief.
Criminals love the holidays. Christmas trees are lit up like beacons that scream: "Hey! Bad guy! The expensive stuff is here, right under this huge window for easy access!"
Even worse is the absence of any light. If your house sits in the dark on a street full of twinkling lawn ornaments, it sends a clear message: "Hi, Mr. Thug? My house is pitch black because I'm out of town visiting the in-laws. But you already know this because you saw my teenager's social post that we'd be 2,000 miles away for the next 4 days, right? Awesome."
The bad news is that there are some really horrible people out there that can't wait to take advantage of innocent homeowners. The good news is that there are attainable ways you can avert disaster by 1) seriously reducing your chances of being targeted and 2) preventing entry if you do get targeted.
Lessen your Chances of Being a Target
Criminals are looking for easy targets. Keep your home off their A-list by doing the following:
- Don't advertise your travel plans. Have you ever sent out a post along the lines of this: "The car's packed with gifts and we're headed North, can't wait to see the nieces & nephews!" What seems like an innocent status update could actually be an open invitation if seen by the wrong person.
- Have the postal service temporarily stop your mail, or ask a neighbor to collect it for you while you're gone. Ask them to park in your driveway from time to time.
- Set your lights, television and/or radios to randomly go on and off throughout the day and night with a programmable timer. Use motion activated spotlights and landscape lighting to keep your yard well-lit. Products like FakeTV simulate the flashing lights of a television.
- Post "Beware of the Dog" signs and alarm system decals (whether you have them or not, and we recommend that you do). If you aren't a pet owner, consider an electric watchdog that emits real barking sounds when motion is detected.
Impede Entry if your Home Is Targeted
According to Armor Concepts, a business that was spawned by a restoration company tired of finding their properties broken into, 85% of break-ins are through a door, it takes a burglar about 10 seconds to gain entry, and the average police response time is 20 minutes. Those are scary statistics. So what if even against your best efforts to discourage it, a burglar decides to target your home? You have to make it very hard to get in.
Securing Entry & Side Doors
Our research on the vastly inferior construction practices of residential entry doors was eye-opening. Armor Concepts advertises a product that can reinforce the weak points of your doors (jambs, locks and hinges) with galvanized steel and prevent a robber from kicking it in. Pegasus Lighting's President & CEO decided to test it out on his own home and was impressed with the product. "I was shocked to realize how easy it was for a door to be kicked in," he said. Armor Concepts products are designed for the DIY'er and also offers options for sliding glass doors and doors with side windows. For more information visit ArmorConcepts.com.
Securing Garage Doors
An unoccupied garage is a great target for a criminal, and interior doors are often left unlocked. Don't depend on the electric garage door opener to keep anyone out. Padlock the overhead door latch when traveling or put a bolt through one of the holes in the garage door track to keep anyone from opening it while you're gone.
A tamper resistant window lock will deter access through windows and safety film applied over your window glass may slow down a criminal enough to alert the police.
Keeping your home and family safe certainly isn't just something that you do during the holidays, but with a little preparation and a few simple products you can rest easier knowing that the only person sneaking into your house this winter will be a jolly old man in a red suit.
What methods are you using to keep your home and family safe this holiday season?